Thinking of visiting the capital city of Canada? Ottawa has plenty to offer its visitors. It may not be buzzing with hectic energy like other metropolitan cities, but it possesses a relaxed atmosphere and idyllic charm that gives much pleasure to guests who intend to just unwind and chill out. Even Ottawa’s attractions offer tourists a laid back way to experience the city’s scenery.
Ottawa is strategically located on the banks of the Ottawa River. It provides a perfect backdrop for various water activities such as canoeing, kayaking and boat riding. The Rideau Canal, particularly, is a favorite among tourists. This canal winding through the heart of the city was aptly declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you fancy seeing the city while gliding through the waterway, you can go board one of the many cruise and pleasure craft available in the area. The Rideau Canal is also something to behold during winter as it transforms into the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink.
To those who want a taste of Canadian shopping, Byward Market is the place to go. It is one of the largest public markets in the country. It offers almost everything, from fresh produce to signature fashion pieces. There are also plenty of al fresco cafes and gourmet restaurants in the area. Watch for secluded cobblestone squares to experience the old-world market charm.
Parliament Hill is also worth seeing when you are in Ottawa. It offers a dramatic view of the Ottawa River and the imposing Parliament buildings make for an excellent photo opportunity. Moreover, it displays hundreds of gargoyles and reliefs intricately carved on the buildings stonework. Watch out for the sound of the 53-bell carillon in the Peace Tower when the clock strikes the next quarter hour. Also, be on the lookout for the daily free concert performances offered by the Dominion Carilloneur. If you happen to be in the area during Christmas season, you can’t miss the magnificent exhibition of thousands upon thousands of Christmas lights stunningly displayed across the hill.
Situated just minutes from the Parliament Hill is the 361 square kilometer expanse of the Gatineau Park. It features various nature trails that wind through forests, lakes and scenic viewpoints. During warm months, visitors can choose from various exciting activities such as cycling, hiking, swimming and camping while cross-country and downhill skiing are the favorite activities during winter.
For the most picturesque scenery, I highly recommend taking a look at Canada’s extraordinary geological formations, the Canadian Shield and the St. Lawrence Lowlands, from Champlain Lookout at Eardely Escarpment. To those who are working on a budget, you will be glad to know that admission to Gatineau Park is free of charge.
If you want to experience the full bloom of Spring in Ottawa, visit during the Canadian Tulip Festival and be treated to the colorful display of tulips in all their glorious splendor. Make sure to join the more than 600,000 visitors in a parade of spectacular Spring color along the Tulip Route.